The oil and gas industry is continuously looking for robust material and tool designs that provide greater operational flexibility in aggressive environments. Coating systems, engineered at the nanometer scale, exhibit enhancements that can address these needs.
Our study of nano-engineered coatings started with simple polymer-polymer self-assembled systems, to which was added nano-sized clay or one of several carbon-based nano materials. We evaluated application of different cross linker treatments. To evaluate the variables involved in preparation of the coating systems we quantified thickness and contact angle, and we performed micrographic and scanning electron microscope analysis of standard coated substrates. When applied to copper coupons we determined a 91% reduction of corrosion after four hours, 60% after 24 hours, and 13% after ninety hours in a hydrogen sulfide gas blend. Nano-engineered coatings applied to common oilfield elastomeric materials produce a 40x delay in swelling and decrease in transmission of carbon dioxide gas by 73%. All of the above are lab results, and the comparisons were made to baseline commercially available rubber compounds without nano-enhancement.
Our results demonstrated that nanotechnology can be very effectively used to significantly modify properties of commonly used oilfield materials. Reduced corrosion can extend the life of downhole electronics and motors. The oil swelling rate can be drastically reduced to give operators a greater flexibility in setting the packers and reducing intervention. These findings can be used to design new packers, sealing elements and other elastomeric components used in downhole environment. This paper will present our recent lab results along with a postulated mechanism on how nanotechnologies can impact material performance in downhole applications.